Cherish

IMG_4880My little bird is leaving the nest. Not my son, my new daughter, Bethanie. She’s only been here six months but our bond is like superglue… we stuck together on contact. My little Rhema student is going back home to Maui and leaving a crater in my life.

As I type this, she’s baking cupcakes. All those mothers of daughters already know what this is like. Mothers of sons, on the other hand, might not be so accustomed to this phenomenon.

Teenage boys generally don’t bake. Mine doesn’t, anyway. Kill animals? Yes. Track mud all over the house? Yes. Play incessant war games? Yes. Prepare delicious food on a whim without ever being asked? No.

So this week (actually last month, I just couldn’t find the emotional strength to post this,) she is packing and cleaning and preparing  to go home to her family and her sweet fiancé, and I am dreading and pouting. This gives me just the tiniest glimpse of what I will face when Jaxon leaves home. Gulp.

Let’s just not and say we did.

I didn’t have a daughter; I wish I had. But let me say this. I’m asking God and believing Him now that my future daughter-in-law and I will have the same kind of sweet relationship Bethanie and I have had while she’s been here.

I love you, hunny bunny, and I thank God for this precious time we had together. See you at your wedding.

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Words charge your life

Words charge your lifeThey say actions speak louder than words… and while that’s true, it’s also true that words pave the way for your actions. When you put something out there with your words, your actions are bound to follow it up. That’s just the way it works, even if we don’t like it.

I told Jaxon that I would come watch something on the computer in a couple of minutes and when I said those words, I “put it out there.”

Guess what?

He held me to it… even though I did not really want to watch a YouTube video of a guy connecting 240 batteries and making a giant spark of electricity between alligator clips.

The moral of this story is, words are powerful. Words charge your life. And words can change your life. Proverbs 18:21 says it very plainly: Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Be careful how you use them.

Hoe your own row

Hoe your own rowLynn and Jaxon have been eating “Paleo,” or the caveman diet. I for one am tired of meat. What about the cavewoman who only wanted to eat pasta and vegetables? Meat is great, but I don’t need it every day. And I certainly don’t want it for every meal. Lynn used to think I was crazy when I had pasta with plain red sauce for dinner… no meat in the sauce. He basically called that a side dish. I think I could live on pasta.

If my ancestors were hunters and gatherers, I am definitely a gatherer. I can hunt if I need to, sure. Put a gun in my hands and a hungry family and I can take care of business. But given the choice, I think I would tend to the garden rather than the flocks.

But that’s why they call it, “Different strokes for different folks.” We like what we like. We can appreciate something else, we can see its value, but given the choice, we will probably go with what we like.

But the other is not wrong. And you are not right.

The Body of Christ, the Church, people of God, whatever you want to call it, we are a group of parts that work together as one. And we all have a different part to play. I love the analogy of a “body” because it makes sense to say that an eye cannot do the job of an elbow. And a foot cannot do the work of the mouth. Although mine too often end up in the same place…

We have to do what we do best and leave others to do what they do best. I cannot do your job and you cannot do mine. You cannot carry my load and I can’t carry yours.

We all have to hoe our own row.

Give me a break

Yes, I haven’t blogged in months. Give me a break.

Yes, my laundry is piled to the ceiling. Give me a break.

Yes, I have twenty plates spinning and a few will surely fall. Give me a break.

Give me a break… give yourself a break… give your family a break. I think we are all too hard on ourselves and others.

This life is busy and hard and emotional and weird and crazy and funny and sad and everything in between. But it’s OK. Give yourself a break. The dishes and laundry will wait. But you only have an 11-year-old son with no clean underwear for a little while. And it does absolutely no good to come unglued on him when he asks you about it because you feel overwhelmed and ashamed because you are not super Mom and you cannot possibly get everything done that you want to do or you feel burdened to do.

I woke my little boy up this morning with an apology. He mumbled, “That’s OK, Mom.” I told him I loved him twice as he walked out the door to school. I asked God to forgive me. And then I moved on. And then I spilled gasoline on my jeans at Quick Trip. And then I drove through Starbuck’s for a coffee the size of my head. And then I moved on.

Give yourself a break and move on. Are there really any other more appealing options?

You want me to do what?

My son, Jaxon, and I have a running disagreement. He says Lynn’s Chevy pickup is silver, I say it’s champagne. When I first heard him say it, I was confused because it REALLY is champagne. But in Jaxon’s eyes, it REALLY was silver.

I honestly don’t know if at that point in time Jaxon didn’t understand the difference between silver and champagne, or if his eyes were actually seeing something different from mine. But the bottom line is, I believed one thing and he believed another. Does that always have to mean that one of us is wrong? Can I make the mental adjustment and just say, we disagree?

Does disagreement have to be a deal-breaker?

How would Jesus behave in this situation? Well, from everything I’ve ever read about Jesus, he turned it back to the Word of God. When he was tempted by the devil he used scripture as a weapon. And the only weapon! He didn’t fly off and say what an idiot Satan was, he just quoted the Word.

So when someone says disparaging things about you, whose word are you going to believe?

Are you an idiot? Or are you the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus?

Are you inept, are you incapable? Or can you do all things through Christ who strengthens you?

Are you doomed to fail, are you a loser? Or are you created in God’s image with gifts and callings that are special, just to you?

Whose report are you going to believe?

Romans 8:1 says, There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Real Christianity is loving those who hurt us, forgiving those who wrong us, and not condemning those who don’t agree with us. You see, we have to apply that scripture to them as well. Just as we can’t let the devil condemn us, we cannot condemn them. We have to let it go and let God sort it out. That’s where peace can come in and we can take our hands off the sticky situation and let our loving and amazing God work it out.

I realized that Jaxon and I can disagree on the color of Lynn’s truck, and neither one of us is wrong. There are some battles that we just don’t have to win! And maybe realizing that fact is winning the battle.

People are different, we think differently, we hurt differently, we react to pain differently, and God made us that way. I don’t know why it’s so difficult sometimes, but hey, it’s not my job to know why we are all so different. It’s my job to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, and strength, and love my neighbor as myself. It’s OK if we disagree. I like mayo on my sandwich, you may like mustard… different strokes for different folks. And that’s OK.

Whatever struggle you are facing, I encourage you to go back to the Word of God and see what God says about it. Excavate those precious nuggets of gold, write them down, meditate on them, and let them be a soothing balm to your soul.

Turn off the voices

Have you seen The Help? Was it not hilarious and yet gut-wrenching? I’m not the only one who just hung on the line, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.”

That got me thinking… what are we saying about ourselves? What are other people saying about us? What does God say about us?

Which one do you line up with?

I’ve told you many times that one of my favorite scriptures is Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (NIV)

We usually apply this when we’re trying not to kill someone, right? Well, I have a whole new use for it… I can apply it toward thinking about myself!

Why should I think about all the things that are wrong with me? Why is it so easy to dwell on those things? I don’t lay in bed at night and think about all the great things I got accomplished, I think about what didn’t get done! How crazy is that?

Yes, I don’t still fit into my high school jeans, yes, my house is messy, yes, my son is critically lacking in his math enrichment points, but you know what? It’s OK. I have other qualities that overshadow my shortcomings and I can choose to dwell on those. Jaxon has areas that I fuss at him about and am constantly working on, but you know what? He has areas in which he outshines the brightest star. Why don’t I dwell on those areas?

When I’m having a bad day, my child wraps his precious arms around me and says, “I love you Mom; you don’t even know how much.” And my heart just melts. Compare that to a chart of math points and it’s laughable. Which would YOU rather have?

Do you see my point?

Sometimes you need to turn off the voices that tell you you’re not good enough, or not smart enough, or not spiritual enough, or not ANYTHING enough.

I’m here to tell you, you most certainly are enough. The Bible says you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. You are more than a conqueror through Christ who loved you, you are the head and not the tail, you are above and not beneath, you are a winner and not a loser and you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!

Chin up! You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, fearfully and wonderfully made, and you are the apple of God’s eye.

Turn off the voices that say anything else.

A non-traditional tradition

So Jaxon had to write an essay about his family’s Christmas traditions, and he actually wrote that not having any Christmas traditions was his Christmas tradition.

I pondered this fretfully, feeling a little like the worst Mom in the world.

It’s true we do not light up the house like the Griswold’s. We do not spend hours baking fancy cookies; I don’t have the patience. We do not go caroling. Who needs the 40-mph north wind? But we do have our own squirrely traditions… lots of them, or at least I do. How did I manage to have a rich and full Holiday Season every year, and my baby boy not notice? Where did I go wrong?

Every year I do the following:

I design about 4 online Christmas cards before I make a decision on one.

I must have a pine-tree-scented candle burning from the day I put up my tree. It’s the only way I can deal with a fake.

I lock myself in the guest room and wrap all of Jaxon’s presents. He tries to peek under the door.

I put a little pan of orange peels and spices to simmer on the stove; it makes Lynn sneeze occasionally.

I have big plans of making lovely bows for all my gifts, but end up using stick-ons. No one ever cares.

I make orange cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning right after we open gifts.

I contribute my favorite seven-layer-salad and a relish tray to my in-laws’ Christmas dinner.

I get really excited for my boys to leave on their day-after-Christmas hunting trip, leaving me home alone to relish the quiet, but miss them fiercely after about 2 days.

And that is exactly what we concluded when we finished that essay. Jaxon’s favorite Christmas tradition is the South Texas hunting extravaganza. His Papa and his cousins and guns and knives and cacti? It’s a little boy’s fantasy! And that boy having the time of his life brings a big smile to my soul.

I hope you find what brings that smile to your soul this week. I will be the one sniffing the candles and orange peels and being truly grateful for my precious family and my Father God; the one who must be smiling in His soul when He sees His own precious family celebrating Him.

Jaxon’s thorn in the flesh

For the last few months, my 10-year-old son has had a little knot on his right middle finger. We really had no idea what it was, but it bothered him enough that he wanted to go have a doctor check it out. Me being the mother who is either hyper-overprotective, or hyper-don’t-sweat-it, and never just a nice happy medium, was not concerned about it.

The doctor told us it was a ganglion cyst. NASTY! He assured us that it was no big deal, he could cut it out, put in a little stitch and a Band-Aid and we’d be on our way. Whew.

So we move along towards the procedure date and the night before when they call to schedule the time, I am made aware that they are going to put him out under general anesthesia. MINOR HEART ATTACK!

The procedure was as smooth as could be and as I was nervously tapping my feet and contemplating asking for a tranquilizer in the family waiting room at St. Francis Children’s Hospital, (gulp) the surgeon comes strolling into the (full) waiting room with a little cup and announces loudly, “Well, here’s the culprit! It was a big splinter!” I have never been more ashamed and relieved at the same time.

Upon closer examination, it was a thorn, probably from his last South Texas hunting trip nearly a year ago. Jaxon has a passion for annihilating any cactus that gets in the range of his Bowie knife. The thorn had gone deep into his finger, undetected by any of us, and his divinely designed, fearfully and wonderfully made little body had surrounded the thorn with protective tissue until it had become a cyst about the size of an eraser on the end of a pencil.

We proudly and sheepishly brought the treasure home in its little cup and celebrated with a milkshake and a new video game which he has happily been playing for about five hours.

So thank you Jesus for an inquisitive child, a steady-handed surgeon, sweet and gracious nurses, and your comforting Holy Spirit to hold my hand through the whole thing. I don’t know what I would do without you.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

I love this time of year. I love getting the Christmas stuff out of the attic and poking through the boxes with a smile and a giggle. How many years will the glue on a kindergarten popsicle stick ornament last? I hope forever.

I love browsing the aisles at Garden Ridge, scouring their selection for a fantastically funky ornament to add to my collection.

I love sniffing candles at my favorite little shop until I find that perfect Christmas tree fragrance that will fill my home and warm my soul.

I love watching my husband watch me decorate the tree.

I love a simmering pot of spicy apple cider.

I love spiking the egg nog.

I love the Holidays.

The handsome guy with glasses

My ten-year-old son got glasses today. It was a monumental day. He approached it in true Jaxon fashion… picked out very cool (and expensive) frames and said, “Yeah, I can rock this look.” Meanwhile, I’m having a small meltdown with the realization that my precious and perfect child who inherited his father’s big, sparkling blue eyes did not inherit his father’s 20/20 vision. Bummer.

When we got home this afternoon, Jaxon’s comment to us, his loving parents, who just shelled out $200 on his little eyeballs; “I’ve been robbed!” Turns out, the glasses really work! They’ve opened up a whole new world to him. Who knew that things were not supposed to look fuzzy? He didn’t know what he had been missing… and blissfully unaware of his mother being a total bonehead.

During my meltdown, I am counting the years this child has been diligently working in school and making very good grades, while not being able to see the chalkboard clearly. Bad Mommy!

After I beat myself up for a while, I made a cup of tea and decided to share my shame with you. Don’t ask me why telling on myself makes me feel better, it just does.

So after my tea, and a handful of Cheetos, I picked myself up and forged ahead. I cooked dinner and reinforced my family’s misguided notion that I am the best cook in the world.

Just like my sweet boy’s eyes are not perfect, I am not a perfect Mom. We are not a perfect family. We don’t live in a perfect house, and we don’t have a dadgum picket fence. I do my best, and sometimes it’s not so great. But when my son wraps his arms around my waist and looks up at me through those trendy Nike frames, I feel like the best Mom in the world.